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Death Penalty: Support Abolition

    March 30, 2015
    by Samantha Bartlett 30 March 2015, 10:59AM, originally posted by Amnesty International Australia
      Myth 1: Only evil people who have committed horrific crimes are executed

    FACT: The death penalty applies to a number of different crimes worldwide, not all of which are horrific. In many countries, such as Iran and Sudan, authorities execute their political opponents. In North Korea, citizens have been publicly executed for communicating with individuals outside of their country.

    Regardless of the crime committed, there is more to an individual than their worst offence. Many of the prisoners on death row in the US suffered horrific abuses prior to committing violent crimes; and are a product of their environments.

    March 24, 2015

    Utah’s decision to turn to the firing squad if it is unable to secure drugs for lethal injection is the latest attempt by a US state to keep alive a punishment that should have long ago been consigned to the history books, said Amnesty International today.

    “Whether by shooting, lethal injection, hanging, asphyxiation or electrocution, the death penalty is a cruel, brutalizing and outdated punishment that is a symptom of violence, not a solution to it. The Utah legislature should be expending its energies on abolishing the death penalty, not trying to fix the unfixable,” said Rob Freer, USA researcher Amnesty International.

    On Monday 23 March, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a law allowing the use of firing squads when the drugs needed to administer the lethal injection was not available.

    This move clearly goes against the global and national trend towards abolition of the death penalty. Since 2007 six US states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and the governors of Oregon, Washington and, in 2015, Pennsylvania have established moratoriums on executions in their states.

    March 18, 2015

    The Iranian authorities must prove that their participation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is more than a mere PR exercise, by halting any plans to execute an alleged juvenile offender and ordering a judicial review of his case, said Amnesty International.

    The execution of Saman Naseem, a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority, following a grossly unfair trial that relied on ‘confessions’ extracted under torture, was scheduled to take place one month before the UN Human Rights Council session on 19 March. The execution was not carried out then and the authorities have refused to officially disclose his fate and whereabouts since.

    “We fear the Iranian authorities may have postponed Saman Naseem’s execution merely to avoid criticism and condemnation at the UN Human Rights Council session, leaving him at even graver risk of execution once the review ends,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    March 17, 2015

    The mass execution of 12 people in Pakistan today highlights the horrific consequences of the government’s decision to resume executions for all death row prisoners, Amnesty International said.

    The 12 men were hanged in prisons across the country this morning and had been convicted of crimes including “terrorism” and murder. Since a moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014, Pakistan has put 39 people to death. Amongst those executed was Muhammad Afzal, who was 16 years old when he was sentenced to death.

    Last week, Pakistan’s government confirmed a change in its policy on the death penalty by announcing that executions would resume for all capital crimes, not just for prisoners convicted on “terrorism”-related offenses.

    “The news that 12 more people were executed in Pakistan this morning is dismaying. The government is apparently intent on making good on promises to send everyone, including children, sentenced to death to the gallows,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    March 16, 2015

    by Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International, Director of Global Issues

    A couple of weeks ago, on 13 February, we woke up to the good news that Fiji had joined the ranks of countries to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. There are now 99 countries who have completely scrapped the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment from their laws – exactly half of all states in the world.

          "The historic milestone of 100 death penalty free countries is within close reach."    

    The historic milestone of 100 death penalty free countries is within close reach.  The parliaments in both Suriname and Madagascar have recently approved bills abolishing executions – all that is left is for the countries’ presidents to sign them into law, although it remains to be seen who gets there first.

    March 11, 2015

    Saudi Arabia is well on track to far surpass its previous annual execution records, Amnesty International warned after three more men were put to death this morning, bringing the total number of executions in the country to 44 so far this year.

    That is fully four times the number of people executed in the Gulf Kingdom during the same period last year – 11. Public beheading is the most common method of execution.

    “This unprecedented spike in executions constitutes a chilling race to the bottom for a country that is already among the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “If this alarming execution rate continues, Saudi Arabia is well on track to surpass its previous records, putting it out of step with the vast majority of countries around the world that have now rejected the death penalty in law or practice.”

    The three men executed this morning include a Saudi Arabian, a Yemeni and a Syrian national, all for drug-related offences.

    March 10, 2015

    Thousands of death row prisoners in Pakistan have been brought a step closer to the gallows today as Pakistan’s government confirmed a change in its policy on the death penalty by announcing that executions would resume for all capital crimes, Amnesty International said.

    “This shameful retreat to the gallows is no way to resolve Pakistan’s pressing security and law and order problems,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Three people have already been executed this year for non-terrorism-related offences. Today’s announcement is a chilling confirmation of the extent of the government’s execution plans.”

    Last December, authorities in Pakistan partially lifted a moratorium on the death penalty which had been in place since 2008. Coming in the wake of a massacre of mostly schoolchildren in Peshawar, this relaxation of the ban allowed the death penalty to be used only in terrorism cases.

    February 19, 2015

    Iranian officials’ refusal to provide the family of Saman Naseem, a death row juvenile offender who was due to be executed this morning, with information about his fate and whereabouts has sparked fears that he is at risk of being tortured or secretly executed, said Amnesty International.

    Saman Naseem was transferred from Oroumieh Central Prison to an unknown location on 18 February 2015. Prison officials told the family to collect his belongings on Saturday.

    “The lack of news about Saman Naseem’s fate or whereabouts with prison officers denying his family any information is cruel and inhuman,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 18, 2015

    The Indonesian government must halt the imminent execution of 11 people and scrap plans to put even more people to death this year, Amnesty International said in an open letter to President Joko Widodo today.

    Indonesia’s Attorney General has confirmed that 11 executions of death row prisoners convicted for drug trafficking and murder will be carried out imminently. The prisoners include both foreigners and Indonesian nationals.

    February 17, 2015

    On 15 February, Saman Naseem, a young Iranian man set to be executed on Thursday, was once again brutally beaten up by men believed to be intelligence officials in a bid to make him “confess” again in front of a camera, which he refused to do, Amnesty International said.

    “Time is running out for Saman Naseem. The fact that Iran is willing to execute a man who was tortured to confess to a crime he is accused of having committed when he was a child shows the state of injustice in the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “These wrongs can never be undone but it is not too late to immediately stop Saman Naseem’s execution and initiate a thorough judicial review of his case.”

    February 13, 2015

    The execution of two men convicted of non-terrorism-related offences marks a disturbing and dangerous escalation in Pakistan’s use of the death penalty since a moratorium was lifted in December last year, Amnesty International said.

    Muhammad Riaz and Muhammad Fiaz were hanged this morning in Mirpur Central Prison in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. The two men were convicted of murdering the son of the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association in 2004, and given death sentences in 2005.

    Pakistan lifted a moratorium on executions on 17 December 2014 – in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre – on prisoners convicted of “terrorism” offences in Anti-Terror Courts. However, today’s hangings mark the first executions of prisoners convicted by ordinary courts.

    “Today’s executions mark a disturbing and dangerous escalation of Pakistan’s use of the death penalty since a moratorium was lifted. The government has apparently gone against its own stated policy of only executing those convicted on terrorism charges,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    February 04, 2015

    The vicious summary killing of a Jordanian pilot who was burned alive by the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) is an atrocious attack against humanity, said Amnesty International, but responding with executions is not the answer.

    The video showing Muath al-Kasasbeh being burned alive in a cage has sent shockwaves across the world. This morning at dawn the Jordanian authorities executed Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli, two Iraqis linked to al-Qa’ida, in apparent revenge for his killing.

    “The abhorrent killing of Muath al-Kasasbeh is a war crime and an all-out attack on the most basic principles of humanity,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The Jordanian authorities are rightly horrified by this utterly reprehensible killing but the response should never be to resort to the death penalty, which itself is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The death penalty should also not be used as a tool for revenge. The IS’s gruesome tactics must not be allowed to fuel a bloody cycle of reprisal executions.”

    February 02, 2015

    The deaths sentences handed down to 183 people in Egypt today following grossly unfair trials are a further sign of Egypt’s disregard for national and international law, says Amnesty International today.

    “Today’s death sentences are yet another example of the bias of the Egyptian criminal justice system. These verdicts and sentences must be quashed and all of those convicted should be given a trial that meets international standards of fairness and excludes the death penalty,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment in all circumstances. To impose death when there are serious doubts hanging over the fairness of the trial is outrageous and flouts international law.”

    The sentences come after a nation-wide media campaign calling for the execution of those involved in attacks on police and military, which gathered pace following last week’s attacks in Sinai.

    January 17, 2015

    Posted at 0030 18 January 2015 Indonesia time

    The execution of six drug traffickers in Indonesia today, the first since President Joko Widodo took office, is a retrograde step for human rights in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Those executed by firing squad today included one Indonesian and five foreign nationals. All had been convicted on drug trafficking charges.

    “This is a seriously regressive move and a very sad day. The new administration has taken office on the back of promises to make human rights a priority, but the execution of six people flies in the face of these commitments,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    While no executions were carried out in Indonesia in 2014, the new government has since it took office in November 2014 announced that 20 are scheduled for this year.

    In December 2014, it was also reported that President Joko Widodo would not grant clemency to at least 64 individuals who have been sentenced to death for drug-related crimes and that there were plans to execute them.

    January 16, 2015

    Pakistan’s government must immediately put an end to the spate of executions in the country in the wake of the Peshawar school attack, which has already seen 19 people put to death over the past month, Amnesty International said.

    Since a moratorium on executions was lifted on 17 December, Pakistan has threatened to send to the gallows around 500 death row prisoners convicted on terrorism charges. Another execution - of Ikramul Haq, member of the armed group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and convicted for murdering a Shi’a Muslim in 2004 - is scheduled for tomorrow in Lahore.

    “The killing spree that is unfolding in Pakistan must end immediately. As horrific as the Peshawar attack was, proving you are tough on crime by carrying out more killings is never the answer to combating violence,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “The government should immediately reinstate a moratorium on executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty.”


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